Friend - Abigail Bergstrom, Head of Publishing at Gleam Titles
In our digital age, storytelling platforms are ubiquitous, whether it be on social media or a Medium blog. Abigail Bergstrom – founder of literary agency Gleam Titles – seeks out those writers who have used the online space to share their content, and offers representation to help immortalise their stories in print.
Abigail works with brave new voices like Liv Little, Gina Martin, Chidera Eggarue and Munroe Bergdorf and she explains that “the common thread running through our list is books that create positive change. We’re known for representing thought-leaders, law changers, activists and experts.”
Having worked in publishing for years herself – as a nonfiction editor for Simon & Schuster – Abigail has had a unique insight into this literary world, as well as a desire to shake things up.
What are you doing to stay positive in this current climate?
Just because the internet enables us to be “connected” at all times, 24 hours a day, doesn’t necessarily mean we benefit from connectivity. And just because we consume news updates minutely, moment to moment doesn’t mean we are better informed on what’s happening in the world. We can talk to our friends and family on Whatsapp, Facetime – or the now more aptly named “Houseparty” app – but it doesn’t mean we are having healthier or closer relationships with them. I think what I’m trying to say is, overconsumption of content and noise can be a false comfort blanket and isn’t conducive to positivity. I am being stricter with myself than ever and am limiting my consumption to avoid falling into “the swirl” of panic and anxiety. I have shifted my mind to one of gratitude: I am grateful I can spend my Saturday afternoon in an hour-long bath, submerging myself in a womb-like, steamy state instead of spending three hours travelling to and from friends because I feel socially obligated; I am grateful I can eat this second slice of carrot cake because not going to the office means I have extra time in the morning to go for a run; I am grateful that I get to spend more time with my Italian Greyhound, Luca, instead of handing him over to my beloved dog walkers. There is so much to be worried about, but there is so much to be grateful for too. I am focusing on what these next few months are giving me, rather than what they are taking away.
Is there a book you’ve read, or journal article that you find uplifting? For books, my list is endless! You can check out my book recommendations on Instagram @AbigailBergstrom where I review the latest titles being published. https://www.instagram.com/abigailbergstrom/?hl=en My article recommendation would be The Crane Wife in the Paris Review, it’s is a beautiful piece that I’ve gone back and reread. https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2019/07/16/the-crane-wife/ For photography I’d recommend Deanna Dikeman’s series which ran in the New Yorker recently, it’s beautiful and made me cry (in a good way). https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/a-photographers-parents-wave-farewellIf you’ve got 2 minutes and need some cheering up, watch The Wind by Epuron https://vimeo.com/129273756
Are you working from home, if so do you have any advice to stay focused?
Yes, I’m working from home which is something I do regularly, although I must admit I do really miss the office and the people I work with. For me personally, staying focused is all about routine. I have moved my breakfast and lunch meetings to video calls, I do these in the morning to kickstart my day. I have to be at my laptop by 9 am, dressed and ready to face a client, publisher or author. Then I have lunch at 1 pm and take my dog for a long walk to get some fresh air – maintaining strict social distancing of course. And then I spend my afternoon reading and editing and responding to emails. For me to stay focused I need to draw clear lines and boundaries between working hours and leisure time because I love my job and it’s so easy for them to blend. This can be dangerous when you can’t assume a new environment to redefine your time. This is why I’ve assigned a working area/zone in my flat and make sure that I don’t get tempted to work on the sofa – or even worse, from my bed! I am trying really hard not to take work calls after hours – usually, I don’t mind this at all, but during self-isolation, it’s important to have clear distinctions between work and playtime if I want to keep focused and productive.
What is your working from home attire?
I totally understand all this getting dressed up and making an effort, even if you’re working from home. And I can see that it works for some! But in truth, I spend so much time having to look smart and get dressed for events that I am really enjoying and embracing wearing comfy clothes and keeping them relaxed. I 100% agree with the advice of getting up, showering and getting dressed for the day ahead. But I am LOVING wearing zero makeup and moving towards baggy shirts over Issey Miyake Pleats Please trousers or wide-leg cotton culottes with wool polo neck jumpers. Instead of make-up, I’m opting for a Haeckels serum and pinched cheeks.
Upbeat playlist recommendations?
The Portico Quartet is a great instrumental band to have on whilst you’re working, I discovered them only very recently.
Any recipes perfect for self-isolation?
Yes! Erin Alderson’s tofu, tahini and chickpea stir-fry! Easily made from stockpiled goods, quick and super delicious: https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-tofu-chickpea-stir-fry-with-tahini-sauce-204205
Follow Abigail Bergstrom here - @abigailbergstrom